Sunday, November 13

day 10573: how to (or not to) do hawai'i (aka travel tips by a mainlander)

1. what to (or not to)bring

Sunscreen - BRING. From a person who now has a billion tan lines, I can't emphasize this enough. It isn't becoming to have a v-shaped tan line from the day you forgot while hiking Haleakala, one from your bikini, one from your tank top, one from your shorts, one from your surf shorts, one from your socks, one from your sandals... oh, and one from your bling. And it's not enough just to bring it. Wear it. I forgot... ouch crispy! For great aftercare, use Hawaiian Blend Aloe After Sun Lotion. This stuff is amazing. Instead of lobster red, I'm golden brown... different shades of course. Dumb tan lines...

Beach mats - DON'T BRING. It's a waste of luggage space. There's always going to be a K-mart, Walmart or Costco. Find one. Buy mats there and toss them when you're done. It's $1.99. Chump change. Just think of all the shopping I could have done had I more luggage space.

Camelback - BRING. It comes in handy on the many death marches that you'll be doing while hiking the lava flows or to the cinder cones. The sun is hot in Hawai'i. It's even hotter when you're hiking across miles and miles of rugged (SHARP!)black lava rock with steam venting at you, no shade... and actual molten lava under the rocks you're walking on. Red, burnt, crispy, puffy face pictures (from sun, heat,and dehydration) do not make for good pictures... especially if the adventure group you went with took pictures of you for their website. You'll just look hot, and not in the sexy kind of way.

Memory sticks for your digicam - BRING. You'll be taking a million pictures of the sunrise, sunset, water, beach etc. Guaranteed. It sucks if you run out of memory, and you'll get ripped off by a shop that sells duds on Fisherman's Wharf (San Fran...) and have to buy a new one. Luckily, it's cheaper in Maui. Consider bringing a portable hard drive. Between Posie and myself, we took more than a gig of pictures. That's a lot of pictures.

2. getting there

Fly. Unless you want to go by boat. But that will take a very, very, very long time. The Pacific Ocean doesn't look that big on a map, but trust me on this one... it's BIG.

Once there, rent a car. In Maui, try to get a 4x4 if you plan on driving the road to Hana. Sure, it's a little more expensive, but you'll feel much, much better when you're trying to navigate the winding, narrow roads with single lane bridges and blind corners. That way, if you feel "adventurous" enough to drive the 5 miles of gravel on the road from Hana (the one that the tour books tell you not to do... i.e. the one that the rental company technically forbids you from doing) which, btw, has the same winding, narrow roads with single lane bridges and blind corners... you won't slide out when making sharp turns because you're driving fast because you want to keep up with the car in front of you. And you do want to keep up with the car in front of you. Especially in late afternoon when the sun is setting, because with the sun in your eyes, and the dust from the road, you're lucky if you can see the tail lights of the car in front; nevermind a car that's coming towards you on the narrow road with the single lane bridges. Get the 4x4. We were ghetto and didn't have one. I think I might take up rally car racing as my next hobby. Fun.

3. staying there

Stay here. I love Mike. Mike is a lot of fun. Mike is great. Mike got up at 4:30am to pack hot coffee and fresh scones for us to take with us to watch the sunrise on Haleakala. Without Mike (and his hot coffee), I don't think I would have survived the drive and the cold to see this (I swear this is not photoshopped)...

Note, Mike's is a little out of the way for most other places. It's half way up the mountain to Haleakala, so bonus, we only had to drive an hour to see the sunrise instead of two hours like all the other lemming tourists.

4. what to

Beach. White sand, black sand, red sand, grainy sand, no sand... there are a heck of a lot of beaches in Maui. Some of them are really nice. Some of them not so nice. Some places say they have a beach and they really don't. Shame on them. You'll find beaches everywhere where you least expect them - even in the store that sells everything gecko.

Hike. Walking around in scorching heat is no fun. Walking around in scorching heat with no shade in sight and in high altitudes is no fun. Bring a lot of water, some gatorade, a couple of energy bars, a pair of good shoes that you won't be able to wear again once you melt them on hot lava rock, and you're set to go. It's a tough little stroll sometimes (hence, aka death march) and definitely not a walk in the park (although, technically, you are walking, and you are in a park... hm). But be strong and suck it up. It's well worth the effort when you get to see what's inside this cinder cone... you'll have to hike it to find out.

While hiking, be sure to pay attention to the trail and your surroundings. It's no fun "skiing" down calf deep sand because you took the path less travelled... Oh, and bring a rainjacket (and hiking boots) for the hikes off the Road to Hana. Apparently rain is normal in a rainforest, and more rain makes the waterfalls more "picturesque" and less trickle-y. Who knew?

Surf, snorkel, blah, blah blah. I don't surf. There are sharks in the ocean. Did I mention my aversion to being eaten by a shark? I only tried snorkeling for the first time today. Apparently, someone from our boat charter saw a shark this morning while we were in the water... snorkeling. While I was in the water... snorkeling. Guess who's not a happy camper... I think I would have freaked completely if I saw it. Never mind my mind playing tricks on me while I was doing this... (it COULD have been a rock that touched me, but I swear I was in too deep for rocks)

Note. That is NOT me. I'm not that good. Not even close. I just get dragged behind the kite. Literally. And no, I'm not about to post a picture of me drowning as the waves crash over my head. No way, no how.

Rally car race. Just joking. Road to Hana. 'Nuff said.

Luau. It's cool. It's entertaining. Poi tastes really bad (no, it doesn't help if you eat it with paniolo steak, guava glazed chicken, or even banana bread... I tried all the combinations... it just tastes really bad), kalua pig is overrated, but mmm... hula boys... very niiice. Very much a hokey tourist trap, but hey, it's nice to walk in and (almost) instantly handed a mai-tai and then being lei'd. Did I say mmmm... hula boys... ALOHA!

... to be continued...

Aloha. Time for bed. More travel tips tomorrow...

No comments: